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Houston Person: Island Episode

Recorded in 1971 and ’73 this reissue finds Person in a Latin groove. The tenor saxophonist’s big, warm sound is heard with an octet on the opening track (“Nemo”) and with a septet on the others. For me, the ballad performances are best: “Don’t Misunderstand” and “With You.” Person always treats ballads with a lot of respect and dignity-and sex appeal.

Two versions of Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” appear, along with other Latin fare. Cut one employs Ernie Hayes on organ, and the remainder of the cuts employ Hank Jones on the then-fashionable electric piano. The album is more mellow than fiery. Viewed in retrospect the arrangements seem a bit dated, but Person’s playing is ageless.

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